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Elizabeth Bordley Gibson collection

 Collection — Shelf: A:1 - A:2
Identifier: A-569

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence to or from Elizabeth Bordley Gibson, the lifelong friend of Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis. The majority of the collection contains letters to Elizabeth Bordley Gibson from Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis. The correspondence focuses on the Gibson and Lewis families, political events, and the people of Philadelphia. The dates of the material in this collection ranges from 1794-1851, with the bulk of the material dating between 1820-1840. This collection was purchased by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association in 1952, from the estate of Roland S. Morris, of Philadelphia. The Morris family inherited these letters through their familial connection to the Shippen Family, who served as executors to the estate of Elizabeth Bordley Gibson.


  • Creation: 1794 -1851


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research during scheduled appointments. Researchers must complete the Washington Library’s Special Collections and Archives Registration Form before access is provided. The library reserves the right to restrict access to certain items for preservation purposes.

Biographical / Historical

Elizabeth Bordley Gibson (1777-1863): Elizabeth was born October 21, 1777 to John Beale and Sarah Bordley in Annapolis, Maryland where her parents had retreated from their estate on Wye Island due to the approach of the British army. The Bordleys were family friends of the Washingtons. Elizabeth developed a close friendship with Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis Lewis, during Eleanor’s time in Philadelphia during George Washington’s presidency. Elizabeth married James Gibson in 1817. The couple had no children. She died on August 23, 1863.

Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis (1779-1852): Eleanor was born on March 31, 1779. She was the youngest granddaughter of Martha Washington and the step-granddaughter of George Washington. After her father John Parke Custis’ death in 1781 and her mother, Eleanor Calvert Custis’ marriage to Dr. David Stuart, Eleanor and her brother George Washington Parke Custis began living with the Washingtons. In 1799, Eleanor married Washington’s nephew, Lawrence Lewis. Of their eight children, only one son and three daughters lived to maturity. Eleanor and Lawrence remained at Mount Vernon until Martha Washington’s death in 1802 and subsequently moved to Woodlawn Plantation upon its completion in 1805. Throughout her life, Nelly regarded herself as the preserver of George Washington’s legacy. She died at Audley Plantation on July 15, 1852 and is buried at Mount Vernon in the family tomb.

Frances Parke Lewis Butler (1799-1875): Frances “Parke” Lewis Butler, was born on November 27, 1799 at Mount Vernon. She was the first child of Lawrence and Nelly Lewis. She spent time in Philadelphia during her youth, when she attended Madame Grelaud’s boarding academy in 1814. Frances married Lieutenant Edward George Washington Butler (1800-1888) in 1826. The couple moved to Dunboyne Plantation in Louisiana and had five children. Parke died on June 30, 1875.


1.25 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged chronologically. The undated material is listed at the end of the collection, in alphabetical order by folder title. One oversized item is listed as an addenda at the end of the contents list.

Related Materials

Esther Maria Lewis Chapin collection of Washington and Custis family papers ; Historic Manuscripts Collection ; Lawrence Lewis Family Papers ; Peter Family Papers

Elizabeth Bordley Gibson collection
Samantha Snyder, Reference Librarian
July 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections at The George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon Repository

PO Box 3600
Mount Vernon VA 22121